Though we’re learning more about memory impairment conditions like dementia every day, there’s still a lot we don’t know. What we do know, however, is that memory impairment can be caused by many things—lifestyle, family history, or other external causes. Since the term “dementia” is used as a general descriptor for many different memory conditions, it can be difficult to narrow down exactly what age it can set in.
Typically, there are two primary varieties of dementia: early-onset and late-onset. Late-onset dementia is the term used when the condition develops in the mid-60s, while symptoms of early-onset dementia—a much rarer version—typically develop around the age of 40.
Fortunately, since we’re learning more about memory impairment every day, there are many options available for treatment, including senior living communities, with one of the more common choices being memory care. These communities are designed to fit every resident’s unique emotional and physical needs and surround them with a support network trained to work with those dealing with memory impairment.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is the general term used to describe memory impairment conditions like Alzheimer’s. Though these conditions most often affect older adults, they have been known to affect people as young as the age of 30 (though this is extremely rare).
The signs of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- General confusion
- Sudden mood or personality changes
- Sudden balance issues or problems with motor control
- Communication issues
- Difficulty with daily tasks
There are two kinds of dementia: early-onset and late-onset.
Late-onset dementia is significantly more common than early-onset. This term is used to describe the condition when symptoms begin appearing in an adult in their mid-60s. Typically, the first symptoms that appear are an increase in memory loss or slight personality changes.
Early-onset dementia is much rarer than late-onset. This is the term used when memory impairment symptoms develop earlier than the mid-60s. It’s estimated that between 220-640,000 people in the United States are affected by early-onset dementia.
Due to the rarity of dementia’s development this early, it can be difficult to receive a proper diagnosis. Doctors rarely will look for early-onset dementia in younger patients, which can lead to months or years of dealing with the condition before receiving proper care.
While we still don’t know exactly what causes dementia, there are several factors that are known to contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing it.
- Family history
- Brain injury
- Substance abuse
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Overall lifestyle
Fortunately, with both late and early-onset dementia, there are steps you can take to prevent the likelihood of developing the condition.
What Can You Do to Prevent Dementia?
While there is no guaranteed or surefire way to prevent dementia from developing, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of its development.
One of the best ways to lessen the risk of developing dementia is to challenge your brain as you get older. By continuing to learn new things and challenging yourself mentally, you can continue developing muscles and patterns in the brain that can help slow cognitive decline.
Physical health also plays a big part in this. A healthy diet and overall lifestyle are big factors when it comes to taking care of yourself as you get older, and they play a part in keeping your brain healthy as well. A healthy diet to make sure you get the nutrients you and your brain need, exercise to keep your body in shape, and avoiding excessive substance use contribute a great deal to reducing the risk of developing dementia.
Taking care of your mental and physical health is one of the best ways to try and prevent memory impairment from developing.
What to Do If a Loved One Develops Dementia
Dementia can be difficult to handle, especially when it affects somebody you love. If you suspect a loved one has any level of memory impairment, your first step should be to visit a doctor to receive a proper diagnosis. Since there’s a difference between dementia and normal age-related memory loss, a doctor will be able to help you figure out what’s causing the memory problems.
If your loved one has memory impairment, the best step you can take is to look into memory care communities. These communities are great places to make sure your loved one receives the care they need while retaining the best quality of life they can. The teams on-site are well-trained and coordinate with medical professionals to make sure each and every resident has everything they need so that memory impairment impacts their life as little as possible.
A dementia diagnosis can seem like a scary thing, but the team here at Barton House is here to help. Schedule a tour with us today to see for yourself, and let us help you and your loved one.If you have any questions about dementia or memory impairment, feel free to contact us today.